POSTCARDS FROM THE WEST: THE NEW VIEW FROM MY DESK

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

2015’s been off to a less than rosy start for me and my kin. Both my wife and I found ourselves unemployed rolling into Christmas (fa-la-la-la). Sign of the times, really – the world’s going through a rough patch of late, economically, socially, the whole she-bang. So I did what anybody else would (or should) do in these situations: dust myself off, straighten out my tie and start knocking on doors looking for work.

But here’s the problem: after five months with no response, the door-knocking becomes nothing more than an exercise – busy work one does to feel like they’re moving towards something, without any results. It’s a Toronto thing, I guess. For a city that grinds to a halt every summer with construction and repairs, there still seems to be a lot of broken shit lying around. My wife has managed to find teaching work – something she’s been working her ass off to achieve, and I’m proud of her every day for the amount of blood, sweat and tears she’s put into achieving these goals.

I, however, am back at square one. And thus, I’ve had to change course. When the same-old, tried-and-true routines prove fruitless and futile, it’s time to take the road less traveled…which is why I’m posting this from Vancouver, British Columbia.

After much discussion with my family, I made the journey two weeks ago to the west coast. And lest anyone think otherwise, this was NOT an easy decision for anyone involved. I was bitten by the west coast bug over two years ago, when I made my first trip out here working The Rue Morgue Festival of Fear. And I fell in love with it almost immediately. The differences between Vancouver and Toronto are well-documented (and often argued about between the two), and with good reason. Within days, I was introduced (and accepted) into a community that didn’t know me from Adam. Artists, writers, filmmakers and genre aficionados of every stripe and colour, many of whom became long-distance friends and colleagues. Without judgement, without having to pass some “secret club evaluation”. And it felt good. It felt right. And that was something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

When word of my recent “non-employed” status reached the west coast, the response was immediate and simple: you need to get out here. It was a lovely sentiment, but one that felt miles away from approaching any kind of reality. But after months with zero response and/or callbacks, desperate times, etc, etc. The idea seemed more than just viable, but necessary. And so, here I am.

I’m staying with a friend who has been kind enough to put me up, while I start planting roots. I have friends who have been gracious enough to introduce me to their social circles – all of whom are filled with genuinely good people. Best of all, there are opportunities. Some immediate, some on the “wait-and-see” pile, but all with the potential to put me on track to the creative opportunities that I’ve been putting off for far too long. It’s daunting, occasionally frightening. It’s also exhilarating and life-affirming. A lot of things have been put on hold, as I gear up for the new “status quo”, and it’s fine . Reinvention leaves its share of wrecakge and reconstruction. It’s part of the process,so I’ve no choice but ride it out and see what’s waiting at the end of it all.

There’s very little I miss, right now, save for one thing: my family. I’m doing this as a solo operative, and there are days where the loneliness, the absence of my wife and daughter, are ruinous. But I’m no good back home. Plain and simple. I have no prospects, no opportunities, no future. It’ll be at least another year or two,before they can join me out here – providing everything works out. We have Skype, we have daily phonecalls and we have the strength of our tightly-knit bond to hold it all together. But it’s not easy. In the end, I just want to do what’s right for my family and for myself. And I’m now certain, more than ever, that this is where it’s going to happen.

As I was checking out and locking up the office for the very last time, I received a text from a friend. They said they were sorry that this was my last day, and ended it with this: “If you don’t walk away from a fire, God gives you a reason to run.” . Those words have stuck with me ever since and ultimately led to this. One of two things is going to happen: either I’m successful in this endeavour and can lay down the foundation for a new life and new opportunities for my family. Or it’s all for naught, and I return to Toronto, tail between my legs and licking my wounds, to get to work on a Plan “B”.

For the first time in my life, though, it feels like failure won’t be an option. I have to believe that will make all this worthwhile. There’s a quote from NIGHTBREED (which will surprise absolutely no one who knows me…at all) that’s been very apropos these past two weeks.

“You made your way back here for the same reasons I did. We belong here now.
There’s nowhere else on earth would take us in.”

I’ve found my tribe, my Midian. And I hope like hell to make this work.

Thank you for indulging me this moment of melancholia. I promise, next time, I’ll have something more upbeat and geeky. Maybe something with monsters.

Yeah, monsters would be cool…

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